Props for Pinterest – How and Why to Use it

Have you joined Pinterest?
If not, go request an invitation and start pinning away!
I’m always intrigued by the buzz around social media sites, and being an online entrepreneur (and media addict) it doesn’t take me too long to poke around and see if they’re worth joining.

What is Pinterest you may ask?

It’s basically a online or virtual photo album that lets you categorize all the beautiful photos and links you find on the web. You can discover photos through contacts and keyword searches. It’s easy to use, and an incredible organizational tool, as well as great eye candy.

How do you use it?

You can get a friend to invite you or go to Pinterest and request an invite. I signed up with my twitter account, and you can also sign up with your facebook account. Set up your account, and add a bio photo and any other information you’d like to share. Then you’re ready to go! The easiest way to pin is to add the “pin-it” button to your tool bar and then anytime you find something you like on the web that you want to share, keep track of or remember you just click that button. Then you can organize the photos into whatever categories you like.


How is it useful?

There are so many ways to use Pinterest. Some people use it to share photos of their artwork or products (Though it’s urged that you do so minimally and respectfully) Others keep track of photos of dishes and recipes they want to create, DIY and art projects they want to complete, home decorating ideas, photos of fashion and style inspiration, organizational ideas, and travel photos. The possibilities are practically endless as Pinterest lets you create your own board categories and you can organize photos however you like. In addition, each photo links to the original source allowing you to re-visit web-sites where they were found, much like a visual bookmark system.
A few things I’ve used Pinterest for include keeping track of and sharing some healthy dishes as well as pinning a few of my favorite cosmetic products to keep track of where to buy them, and to let others know how great they are.

What’s the social side of it?
You can connect with your facebook and twitter contacts and follow their pin boards. You can also search and find people who have similar interests to yours and keep an eye on their pins. Pinterest lets photos be repinned, so even if you’re not out searching the web you can still find a lot of things that interest you just through looking through the boards alone.
Feel free to take a peek at my Pinterest boards, and I may just follow you back as well!
http://pinterest.com/valerie_tyler/
Happy Pinning!

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Geek Speak for Artists (and other businesses!): Successfully Using Technology to Promote your Art

A savvy artist knows that in order to become successful they have to do a lot more than just create great art.  They need to become known, respected and perhaps even establish a fan base.

In the past many artists often relied on visibility at art shows, gallery representation, newspaper coverage, and handing out thousands of business cards as well as word of mouth to establish their name and identity.  Today however, artists with a little tech know-how can use the internet to build a fruitful business.  The following represent only a mere fraction of the tools available that can be used to build up a reputation, market products and create a customer base.

Social Networking

One of the first best ways to build up clientele and get the word out is to take advantage of one (or all) of the many free social networking tools on the internet.

Myspace.com which has been around since 2003 allows users to keep in touch with “friends” and make new ones. You join a group with similar interests or create your own, post photos, music and create a profile.  For artists it’s pretty simple to create a page to profile your business, add pictures of your work and even contact information.  You can also send bulletins to all your “friends” with updates about what you’re doing. Check out Cleveland handmade’s profile on myspace.com  for an example of how this collective of artists uses myspace as part of their marekting efforts.

ch1

Facebook is one of my current personal favorites.  It was originally founded to connect college students, but today users can connect and find others based on city, school or workplace.  A variety of applications allow users to maintian event calendars, post videos, photos, links, create groups and more.  Once someone is a facebook user they can also create an additional business page.  Facebook users can become fans of business pages to keep track of news feeds and updates from those businesses. For an example of a business page, her my business page:

facebook

Other social networking sites worth checking out include DeviantArt(specifically for artists), linkedin (for businesses), and tribe (a great place to find people with similar interests)

Social Messaging

This is very similar to social networking, though quite a bit simpler and quicker. Twitter is an example of one social networking site (otherwise known as micro blogging) in which users can send and receive short messages.  Many artists on Etsy for example are using Twitter to send followers short updates on new product listings, links to photos, and short notes about events.  Other social messaging sites include Jaiku and  Plurk.

I personally follow several artists on twitter and enjoy checking out their updates on anything from what has inspired them to learning about new creations.  I also use it to keep my own followers in the loop as far in regards to special news.  Here’s an example of a short twitter I received from Etsy that let me check out the most recent “Get The Look” feature:

Etsy
Etsy Etsy Finds: Getting Jill Bliss’ Look – Home Decor Edition: This weekend’s Get the Look: Decor is inspired by.. http://tinyurl.com/94acra

Bookmarking Sites

Another excellent way to get your art out to the public is to submit it to social bookmarking sites.  These are sites in which users save the links of web-sites and products they want to share with others.  These can be as simple as wish lists, or more indepth sites that run contests, allow voting, creation of styleboards, and have expert panelists.   You can add your products as well as others you like to bookmarking sites, and use networking to suggest  items to others.

Known for “connecting stylish people”  Stylehive promotes their site as a way for you to become or follow “shopping divas” to see what’s hot.  It’s an excellent place to add jewelry, clothing, accessories and home decor.  You can share items with friends or the entire community as well as win contests and more.

Kaboodle is another shopping community where users can  recommend items and check out the suggestions of others. On Kaboodle users can also create styleboards like the one below with items they have bookmarked to share with the community. In styleboards the images link back to the site where the items can be purchased.

styleboard

Delicious is perhaps the largest of all the social networking sites.  Users can tag and save their favorite sites, login to delicious and still get to their bookmarks from anywhere. Use it to check out which tags are the most popular and discover the delicious links of others.

If you’d like a bookmarking tool that helps you search or “stumble” across sites that would be of most interest to you consider StumbleUpon.  Members of StumbleUpon can add sites, share, rate and rank the sites and use it to find similar sites or sites that fit their interests.

There are literally dozens and dozens more, so search the internet and see what else you can find that suits you.

Blogging

Once you begin to establish a customer base keep your customers up-to-date through your very own blog. Artists can use their blogs to share their artistic processes, their inspiration for their work, news, and more.  For best results make frequent posts to your blogs, include pictures to make things interesting, and build links.  If you want people to visit your blog, your posts should be relevant and interesting.  Submit your blog and rss feed to directories such as yahoo to get more traffic.  Three of the biggest free blog publishing tools are WordPress, LiveJournal and Blogger.  There are pros and cons to each so it’s worth thinking about what kind of control and ease you are looking for in a blog.  This blog is an example of what you can do with a blog on wordpress.  To see an example of how a wonderful artist uses Blogger check out one of my favorite artists, SToNZ:

untitled-2-stonz

Databases and Directories

Some internet sites have databases or directories where users can browse through a collection of links to shops and businesses.  They key here is to add your site to databases most likely used by your target audiences.  Artists may wish to consider adding their sites or shops to databases such as Talent Database, Bust Magazine’s Girls Wide Web, FashionMission and Indie Collective.

Photosharing

At the slight risk of having your photos used or “stolen” you can expose audiences to your work by sharing photos of your work with others. Flickr is perhaps the most well known of these sites.  Flickr allows you to upload and store photos and choose how you want to organize and sahre those photos.  If you make your photos public others can view and discover your work.  Keep in mind however that Flickr’s dos ans don’ts  state that the site isnot to be sued for commercial purposes.  If you link your photos to a selling site or include too much “business” information your account may be terminated.  Other photo sharing communities include webshots and fotolog.

Whew—tired yet? In short, there are so many ways to promote and market your art that are even FREE to be found on the internet.  Keep in mind some of these resources bring more attention to your business than others, you just need to research and find out which ones are the best for your business and determine how m uch time to invest in them.  The larger a presence you can make however, the more well known you will become as an artist.

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) may not be an Improvement

On February 10th, 2009 The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will go into effect which willput strict safety measures on product made for children and requires that toys and product made for children under 12 be tested for safety (specifically lead) content by independent labs and labeled with their material contents.  This Act is largely in response to millions of toys that were imported from China and recalled just this past summer, that had lead levels far beyond legal limits.

At first glance, this sounds like a wonderful piece of legislation until one thinks about it further (which apparently too many politicians did not do.)

In our already struggling economy, this will place additional financial burden on EVERY SINGLE manufacturer and retailer of children’s products.   This includes everyone from major retailers down to the handmade producers of ogranic children’s clothes or natural waldorf toys.   It doesn’t matter whether there is no way there could be lead in the product, it still has to be tested. Unfortunately, unlike  some major manufacturers, small independent producers do not have the financial means to test the products they make.

Consider that even major retailers will have to pull products from their shelves that have not been properly tested and labeled.  This means either dramatically reducing their prices for quick sale and taking a huge loss, or destroying them.   With most retailers already struggling, consider the further detrimental impact this will have on our economy.

Most handmade artists are particularly concientious and responsible about their work and assuring that it meets regulations and standards.  A large percentage  have already researched what they would have to do to comply.  To the dismay of many they have discovered that the costs of testing on toy could run anywhere from $500 to over $1500 or even more.  (I read somewhere that testing something like a child’s telescope could run over $15,000!) Some quotes they have received from labs have stated that tests would run approximately $150 per material.  Imagine the handmade doll maker who uses five different threads, four different fabrics, wood, and plastic in their handmade doll, which they spend ten hours making and only retail for $35.  Now do the math.

This law has no loopholes for artists who have spent years doing everything they could to use only natural materials, and to be very aware of what they use in their creations. This law also has provided no financial means to ease the burden put on businesses who simply cannot afford what it demands they do. Which means, that we may see thousands about thousands of small business destroyed in a time when we need to be doing everything we can to support our small businesses.

While we need to do everything we can to protect our children,we have to do so with a level head and educated decisions.  Putting thousands of companies, individuals and small organizations of out business who have never done anything to harm children and have always strived to create quality products is certainly not an improvement.  Furthermore, when everyone else goes out of business, what toy and childrens’ product manufacturers will remain? (Probably the same manufacturers who were responsible for bringing all the toys with lead content into the US in the first place)

Where can you go to be heard or learn more?

Visit these following links (not all endorsed or reviewed by Art Addict, but offered up for you to research)

http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia

http://www.votesmart.org/issue_keyvote_detail.php?cs_id=21923

http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/

http://nationalbankruptcyday.com/

Response from the National Association of Manufacturers

http://www.toyassociation.org/AM/PDFs/Safety/CPSCPetition1208.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUlY6zOMPqQ

Emerge Zine Calls for Artists

I haven’t come across Emerge before (but frankly think it would be nice to take a look at it)  Right now they’ve issued a call for artists to submit their work to be considered so I’m making that information available to you.

emerge is an art zine designed to connect emerging Midwest artists with galleries in the region.
Distributed quarterly to over 100 Midwest galleries, emerge features six artists per issue, each hand selected by a rotation of guest jurors. Professional Midwest artists working in all media are encouraged to apply. Chosen artists receive an entire color spread, complete with several images of recent work, their show history and a Q&A section where they discuss the ideas behind their art. Visit us online at http://www.sarahearle.com/links.php?43353 for submission guidelines and to see why emerge is a powerful exposure tool for any serious studio artist in the Midwest.

So you want to do an outdoor art show?

So I was sitting here today (and yesterday, and the day before for that matter) already in a panic trying to compile my list of things “to do” and “things I need” for my upcoming summer shows. Yes, I said summer and yes, I know there is snow outside on the ground. Considering my first show is in June though that is only a few months away, and when one has things to buy, construct, or send away for in the mail these things take time.

With that small panic attack now out I figure I’ll share my list of things to have if you yourself think that the crazy world of outdoor art festivals just sounds like so much fun and you really have to try it!

I’d recommend at least having the following to do an art show:

*A Tent-preferably white, with sidewalls. I myself like the Caravan tents they have at Costo. Currently I’m debating the least eye-sore way of holding mine down from wind gusts. (It is VERY important to make sure your tent does not blow away!) Since almost all shows won’t let me put stakes in the ground this will involve either weights, sandbags, or milk jugs of water. DO NOT get one that isn’t a cinch to put up. You don’t have time to play with a tent forever when you have merchandise to set up.

*Tables, chairs (And it’s not a bad idea to have a smaller table for your cashbox and personal stuff hidden away behind your display tables)

*Table covering (I’ve got to get some new tablecloths, and hopefully my table runners dry clean well as they unfortunately did double-duty at a house party and had some run-ins with salsa!)

*A cash box, lots of cash to make change with, a calculator, notepad, pens and pencils

* A receipt book and inventory record to track sales

*Food and Water (yes, this is high on my list)

*Signage-price tags, advertising banners, type of payments accepted (and extras of all of these)

*Vendors license # (Just in case they come checking!)

*Business cards and other promo materials (I’m thinking of doing magnets with my web-site address)

*A mailing list sign up

*A camera (You’re going to want photos after doing all that set-up)

*Your display-in my case an even longer list of jewelry risers, t-bars, rotating earring rack, necklace and bracelet stands, and random bowls, trays and more!

*Emergency supplies-tape of all kinds, binder clips, string or rope, safety pins, band-aids, paper towels, a garbage bag. You never know when these things will come in handy, but if you don’t bring a bag of them you’re guaranteed to need one!

*Anything else your required to bring (a demonstration project/a donation/etc..)

*Packaging for customer purchase–make it look nice! Logo bags, stickers, boxes, ribbons, whatever!

*And oh yeah, don’t forget your artwork!

If I’ve forgotten anything, or you have anything to add please feel free to do so!